Insent Seed Round

Chatbot vendor Insent.AI closed on a $2 million seed round “to help mid-market B2B companies improve how they identify and communicate with potential buyers.” The firm, which competes against Intercom, Terminus Chat, and Drift, calls itself a “human-first chatbot.”

Insent said that it isn’t “just building a chatbot that generates leads, but a collaborative platform that is going to help marketers create, nurture qualified opportunities, and shorten sales cycles.”

The goal is to remove “digital walls” between buyers and sellers by replacing web forms and follow-ups “with instant live conversations on websites” that schedule meetings and deliver “personalized content recommendations based on engagement history.”

Insent describes itself as an “integration first platform,” with MAPs, CRMs, and ABM Platforms “to help sales teams talk to engaged prospects while they’re on the website.”

According to Insent Digital Marketer Aatharsha Jey, “integrations should be planned and carried out in a way that does not ask people to change their behaviors in order to adopt a new tool.”

“By guiding their buyers at the right time and proactively alerting your salespeople, Insent generates new revenue opportunities and accelerates existing ones,” said CEO Arjun Pillai.

Emergent Ventures led the round with participation from BAM Ventures, TechStars, Arka Venture Labs, Arali Ventures, and Bizable founder Aaron Bird.  Funds will be deployed to expand its chatbot integrations and add engineering, sales, and marketing headcount.  Another area of development is improving its visitor data intelligence to improve personalization.

“We believe the B2B sales process currently has unnecessary friction for both buyers and sellers,” said Anupam Rastogi, Partner at Emergent Ventures.  “As an increasing proportion of sales is digitally intermediated and more leads are generated online, we believe Insent has a tremendous opportunity to help both buyers and sellers do their work more effectively and connect seamlessly.”

Initially, the pandemic slowed Instent’s growth as marketing teams reduced budgets and delayed decisions, but chatbots are high on the list of MarTech digital acquisition solutions.  Since May, revenue has quadrupled.

Aaron Bird, former VP at Adobe and CEO of Bizable, remarked that marketing had undergone two major paradigm shifts over the past few years, the rise of ABM and a focus on the buyer experience at the heart of the sales process; however, “companies are yet to start adapting to this paradigm. Insent is a key piece of the puzzle to help them do so.”

Insent stress-tested various platforms before settling on MongoDB and AWS.  Pillai contends that the platform gives them a five-year or six-year window before rearchitecting.  The platform was designed with an account-based, versus lead-based, architecture that ties leads to accounts for account-based orchestration.

“So, the architecture is obviously manually decided.  But as far as the scaling is concerned, it is all automated,” said Pillai. “There are enough database services that will enable us to run automated services of scaling up and scaling down … to make sure that when you are sleeping if a customer connects a 10 million [record] database, the system scales up.”

Insent is using 6Sense for visitor identification. “We go and task 6Sense through an API,” said Pillai. “We take that data, and we do further processing of that data.  All of this happens in microseconds.  Basically, the moment somebody lands on the website, boom, the API call comes back with the data based on that website, company visitor.”

Insent was founded in 2018 and has forty employees in the US, Canada, and India.

Leadspace Closes on Series D

Customer Data Platform vendor Leadspace closed on a $46 million Series D led by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP).  It has now raised $107 million since being founded in 2011.  The firm also announced Alex Yoder as its new CEO as the firm ended a dispute with their former CEO Doug Bewsher.

Leadspace features include company and professional profiles, data hygiene and enrichment, web forms, reports and analytics, TAM and ICP analysis, and account engagement.  Leadspace also performs lead prioritization and identifies similar companies.  Unlike many CDPs, Leadspace is a pure B2B platform.

The funds will be used for meeting growing demand, expanding its headcount, and resolving litigation.  The firm currently has 100 employees in the US and Israel.  The 40 employees in Israel are technology-focused, and the US contingent manages business leadership.

“A major part of our post-investment vision is to grow our team in Israel,” said CTO Amnon Mishor.

Leadspace also announced that Doug Bewsher was stepping down as CEO and being replaced by Alex Yoder.  According to VentureBeat, there was a falling out between Bewsher, JVP, and the Leadspace board about the company’s direction.  Bewsher was looking to sell the firm, while the Board and JVP wanted to continue growing it, resulting in a lawsuit between two JVP partners and Bewsher.

“I’m glad to say that the lawsuit is behind us.  The former CEO agreed to leave.  A situation arose in which the CEO and some of the investors, particularly Arrowroot Capital were interested in selling the company, while JVP, other board members, and I saw potential in our figures to build up a large company.  We had made a technological leap and didn’t want to sell. There was a conflict among the board members and negotiations between the various investors over whether to sell or not, with the lawsuit being part of that.  Eventually, everyone reached an understanding,” said Mishor.

Despite the leadership issues and a failed 2018 merger with Radius, Leadspace has grown its market presence.  It doubled its customer base over the past two years and grew revenue 151% between 2016 and 2019, placing the firm at 2,681 on the 2020 Inc. 5000 list.

Yoder is bullish on Leadspace, forecasting 70% growth this year, double that of the market.  Growth is being driven by the need to find and engage contacts at companies as the pandemic precludes face-to-face meetings.

Yoder has led several B2B and SaaS companies over the past two decades, including WebTrends, Ebiquity, and Trueffect.  According to the press release, Yoder has “built strong teams and implemented transformational strategies, running businesses that spanned $20 million to $150 million in revenue.”

JVP Executive Chairman Erel Margalit was named the Board Chairman.

“We typically invest in early-stage companies, but we only double down in category leaders and companies that can reach $100 million in ARR,” said Margalit.

“We believe that Alex Yoder can take the business to the next level as Leadspace becomes the single source of truth for B2B data,” said Margalit. “Leadspace – through its revolutionary AI platform – is changing the way enterprises manage their internal and external customer data.  In the coming years, enterprise CDP will be established as a new category, using AI to obtain the true identity, title, and roles of companies and individuals, creating true added value for clients.”

Competitors include D&B Lattice, 6Sense, Zylotech, and ABM Platforms.  Yoder contends that Leadspace’s strength in in analyzing unstructured social and behavioral data.

“Creating a source of truth for B2B is a very complex problem.  Companies are complex — sales cycles and engagement can be sporadic, involve multiple stakeholders, and can last months or even years,” said Mishor. “There are multiple data and intelligence point solutions that address small parts of the fundamental data issue.  No other solution is taking the holistic approach of being the connective layer between raw data and engagement channels for B2B like Leadspace.”

Leadspace clients include Microsoft, Salesforce, American Express, Intel, HPE, and Zoom.

Zoominfo Targeted Audiences (Part II)

Zoominfo launched their new Targeted Audiences service to support programmatic advertising against their universe of B2B account and contact data. [Part I]


ZoomInfo employs signature-block mining, natural language processing, machine learning, and email verification to build and maintain their Data Cloud.  They also recently acquired EverString to augment their firmographic depth and field fill rates for 95 million companies.  Targeting against the Zoominfo Data Cloud offers “campaigns with unmatched precision and enhanced performance.”

“Digital agencies and marketers typically face challenges in collecting high-quality, complete B2B audience data,” contrasted ZoomInfo. “Most widely available contact information for companies and their employees is either inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated, which means many digital agencies and marketers deliver their messages to the wrong people altogether.”

“What’s common knowledge to those in the industry — but not to a bright-eyed data guy like me — is that advertising audiences aren’t engineered to be precise.  Quite the opposite, actually: This space is all about volume and audience expansion through inferences, and modeled data has taken over.”

ZoomInfo SVP of Innovation and Data R&D Derek Smith

Marketers can also build custom audiences from over three hundred demographic and firmographic selects, including funding data, benefits data (licensed from GlassDoor), event participation, banking variables, technographics, and Fortune 500/1000 flags.  Biographic variables include function, level, and title/keyword.

Targeting is most effective for the North American market because ZoomInfo is limited in the number of legally gathered and stored identifiers for EU citizens due to GDPR.

“Our product is unlike any other for two reasons. First, we’ve amassed a treasure trove of emails, phone numbers, and titles. Second, we’ve architected our company data to let you identify companies with a level of granularity that significantly eclipses the competition,” said Derek Smith, SVP of Innovation and Data R&D. “Was this always intentional? Of course not.  But unbeknownst to me, our data became tailor-made for advertising activation as a result of other projects at ZoomInfo.”

As a new offering, Targeted Audiences should be viewed as a solution for building precise B2B audiences and activating them via LiveRamp.  With nearly 100 million targetable professionals, 500 million identifiers, and 300+ selects, ZoomInfo can build very focused audiences.  However, there are some gaps.  Targeted Audiences does not offer any campaign analytics, creative management, social marketing, retargeting functionality, or intent-based targeting.

“Targeted Audiences allows marketers to build strategic campaigns based on contact and company information and creates new levels of granularity in B2B audience data that have never before existed on the market,” said ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck.

Targeted Audiences is a standalone offering.  Marketers and agencies can test out the service on a few audiences before signing a volume contract.  The fifty off-the-shelf audiences are priced at $1 CPM ($1 for 1,000 advertising exposures).  Custom Audiences begin at $2.75 CPM, but the price falls with volume commitments.

Zoominfo Targeted Audiences

ZoomInfo moved deeper into the marketing and advertising space with the launch of Targeted Audiences.  The newly unveiled B2B data service “gives digital agencies and marketers the ability to target their ideal customers with unprecedented accuracy.”  Targeted Audiences are built from the ZoomInfo Data Cloud, which includes 500 million emails and phone numbers for nearly 100 million professional contacts.

ZoomInfo was in the advertising space in its early years but spun off its Bizo platform in 2008.  At the time, CEO Yonatan Stern said, “We realized our business information index allowed marketers to deliver targeted online ads at a level never before seen.”  

Since then, ZoomInfo has acquired a deeper set of contacts and richer firmographics, technographics, funding data, benefits plans, and event data, supporting superior targeting precision.

Unfortunately, Bizo was acquired by LinkedIn in 2014 for $175 million but folded 18 months later when LinkedIn balked at the integration cost.  

Targeted Audiences should be viewed as a new market entry for the firm, but one that supported a $175 million opportunity back in 2014.  The October acquisition of Clickagy fueled this market entry as Clickagy intent data is deployed programmatically via data marketplaces.

“With the team at Clickagy now on the ZoomInfo team, our familiarity with the advertising space accelerated from 0 to 60 mph almost overnight.  The combination of our massive Data Cloud with a select few experts in advertising data allowed us to quickly discover the path to making our data actionable,” blogged Derek Smith, SVP of Innovation and Data R&D.

ZoomInfo launched the programmatic service with over fifty pre-packaged audiences “built on advanced demographic and firmographic data.”  ZoomInfo offered several examples outside of their core technology and business services customer base:

  • Educational institutions can target individual contributors and managers employed by firms with tuition reimbursement.
  • Optometrists can market to employees of companies with vision plans.
  • Luxury brands can reach out to C-level execs at firms with more than one hundred employees.
  • Financial advisory firms can target director-level employees of firms that recently went public.

ZoomInfo is passing audience identifiers to the LiveRamp data connectivity platform.  LiveRamp maps identifiers to channels, screens, and devices for media activation.  Additional partner platforms will be brought online in the coming weeks.


Continue to Part II.

HG Insights Market Intelligence for SOM Analysis

Last month, HG Insights launched its Market Intelligence service that supports technographic market research. The analytics service supports sales, marketing, and strategy teams at B2B vendors, letting them develop account plans, segment markets, evaluate market entry, and size opportunities.

Product and strategy teams can analyze market trends, size market opportunities, and assess competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.  They can also use it to identify the Service Obtainable Market (SOM), which is the market segment size a firm can capture with its solution. As HG Insights notes in the following graphic, the SOM is a narrower definition of market potential than TAM (Total Addressable Market) and SAM (Serviceable Addressable Market).

For example, many entrenched vendors in the North American Sales Intelligence space have robust solutions and established market share.  Looking to displace LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Zoominfo, D&B Hoovers, and InsideView in the most mature Sales Intelligence segment would be difficult.  However, a SOM analysis would indicate that the UK is the second most mature market and that continental Europe is beginning to take off.  Thus, a product manager might focus on European content and multi-lingual capabilities (e.g., UX, event tagging, free form text translation).  Likewise, they might select niche markets such as financial services with strong compliance requirements or choose to develop functionally differentiated services (e.g., GrowFlare focused on psychographics and ICPs before being acquired by Terminus late last year).

“Without a SOM containing detailed information about competitor product installations, you’d have no way of knowing this and might decide to go to market in a region saturated by competition you have very little likelihood of displacing. Alternatively, what if you were looking at different regions or countries and wanted to identify which situations represented the best growth opportunities for your business. Again, knowing the estimated market size in revenue isn’t going to help you much. But what if you knew what companies had budgeted to spend on your category of product by region, entity, or industry?”

HG Insights VP of Global Sales Scott Smyth

“Business leaders need more than high-level market reports to make successful go-to-market decisions,” said HG Insights EVP of Product Rana Kanaan. “With our actionable market intelligence offering, we are giving our customers the ability to customize their market views by the attributes they care about most and operationalize intelligence for their revenue teams.  This allows them to allocate resources more effectively, prioritize the right product initiatives, and give their sales and marketing teams the account details they need to pursue the best opportunities.”


Scott Smyth is offering a master class on TAM/SAM/SOM on February 24th. Here is the information:

HG Insights Market Intelligence

HG Insights continues its evolution from a technographics licensor to a full-service direct source of technology market intelligence.  Two weeks ago, they launched Market Intelligence, a market analytics service for marketing, product management, and strategy groups.  Market Intelligence delivers “actionable insights [that] business leaders need to understand their markets in-depth, make better business decisions, and go-to-market (GTM) with confidence.”

Market Intelligence insights are derived from their global verified technology installation data, including which products have been installed, tech stack spend by category, and contract terms. “This trio of data sets powers detailed, customizable views of the entire installed technology ecosystem,” wrote the firm.

The IT Spend and tech install data are broken into different categories, helping sales teams determine which verticals are likely to have both budgets and an intention to purchase.  Revenue teams can drill into market segments to understand the “size, shape, and structure” of target markets.

Likewise, marketing can use install and spend intelligence to better segment and target their outreach.  Information can be analyzed by IT category, industry, region, and other relevant attributes.  Better targeting allows firms to focus their marketing spend and attention on the right prospects and feed marketing qualified leads to sales.

Revenue teams can deploy Market Insights for territory optimization, account targeting based on propensity to purchase, and account-based messaging.

HG Insights contrasted Market Intelligence with traditional technology research vendors that provide “static, top-down analyst reports that are not customizable at the account level.”  According to HG Insights, technology analyst reports lack the account intelligence that revenue teams require to engage with customers and prospects effectively.

“HG Insights Market Intelligence platform addresses these challenges by providing you with the bottom-up account intelligence you need to understand your markets in-depth and make better business decisions,” contrasted HG Insights Marketing Communications Manager David Guerra.  Using our Market Intelligence platform, you can now instantly analyze the true size of your markets globally by technology installation, IT spend and budget, and a number of other factors.”

Users can also compare the market size of various markets such as countries by vertical to determine growth opportunities.  Other features include vendor penetration rates by industry, purchasing and spend data for target accounts, and segmentation based upon ICP criteria.

“The HG Insights Market Intelligence platform gives you all the information you need to understand your markets, remove subjectivity from planning, and go to market with confidence,” stated Guerra.

A few weeks ago, HG Insights closed on an equity round with Riverwood Capital.  HG Insights completed a successful 2020, reaching its highest annual recurring revenue (ARR) and profitability.  Employment rose 30% last year, and revenue grew over 35%.

“Customers continue to reaffirm that HG Insights’ data’s breadth, depth, and coverage accuracy has become an indispensable asset for critical decision making at every level of a technology company,” commented Riverwood Principal Ramesh Venugopal who joined HG Insights’ Board.  “HG Insights provides unique, data-driven knowledge giving decision-makers confidence that they are making the right choices.”


Part II covers how Product and Strategy teams can employ Market Intelligence for determining the Service Obtainable Market (SOM) for technology offerings.

Artesian Data Extensions

Sales and Risk Intelligence vendor Artesian Solutions announced three data extensions to its company and contact universe: two U.K. dataset extensions and an Irish dataset.  On January 14th, they unveiled their new Connect platform and a broader product vision.

“We’re delighted to kick off 2021 on such a high. These new premium data points are fundamental to the KYC and compliance processes for many of our customers, so it was a logical extension to the data they currently rely on to engage with their customers.

Artesian CEO Andrew Yates

The first data extension is U.K. County Court Judgments (CCJs) and legal notices such as receiverships and winding-up petitions.  CCJs are useful for financial services onboarding, due diligence, and risk assessment.

The Adverse Director History dataset assists with KYC/AML processes and highlights whether a Director was previously associated with a firm that ended up in insolvency, administration, or bankruptcy.

Artesian already provides access to other compliance datasets such as Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs), terrorist lists, and sanctions lists.  Additional details will be released in next week’s platform announcement.

The new Artesian:Connect platform supports custom processing rules and alerting for CCJs and adverse director histories.  Data goes back as far as twenty years.

The Irish dataset provides four years of company financials, director checks, and company news.  Firmographic data includes addresses, trading status, registration numbers, and auditor information.  Company data is available through Artesian Engage, the Artesian Ready app for iOS and Android, Salesforce, and Microsoft Dynamics.  Coverage spans 250,000 companies.  

Artesian did not publicly disclose the Irish data vendor, but it is a highly credible data source.

Artesian Solutions already provides coverage of Britain, the U.S., and Canada.  Customers can license the countries in any combination, including Ireland only, U.K. + Ireland, and all four countries together.

Artesian had a successful 2020 as customers looked for remote vendor solutions for both sales and compliance/onboarding.  Usage was up sharply for both product lines.  According to Chief Customer Officer Mike Blackadder, Artesian’s “training teams have never been so busy.”

Artesian hosted a virtual summit for its Connect platform on January 14th. Coverage continues tomorrow.

NetLine Buyer-Level Intent

NetLine unveiled its new buyer-level intent solution Intent Discovery.  Intent Discovery identifies both the individual buying committee member and the buyer journey status.  Intent data is gathered from interactions with NetLine’s 12,000 gated content assets from opted-in researchers who are fully permissioned.  NetLine describes Intent Discovery as an “always-on monitor” of business research.  Research activity is “mined on a real-time basis, and intercepted once a buyer has met or exceeded each element required to define intent.”  

Once prospect activity has been qualified for both active intent and firmographic fit, Intent Discovery asks a set of customer-specific questions that further qualify intent and deliver bespoke insights about the prospect and the individual researcher.  These insights are then available to sales reps, allowing them to target their messaging to an audience of one.

All content is vendor agnostic, increasing response quality. “Sans branding, the buyer is more likely to truthfully respond.  Minus the influence of a brand, and its market perception, B2B buyers are statistically more likely to find trust in the questions and their reason for being asked,” stated NetLine.

Preliminary data from their pilot indicates a 70% increase in participant’s “ability to accelerate account’s conversion to net-new opportunities.”

“Historically, if Marketers wanted to glean true intent insights from their prospects, they had to rely on a mix of their own content initiatives and faceless display advertising campaigns focused on targeting anonymous third-party cookies.  With Intent Discovery, Marketers now have access to dramatic first-party scale beyond their own content, enabling them to accelerate the sales process.”

NetLine CEO Robert Alvin

“With this product, we’ve effectively delivered the last mile of B2B Intent: Who is actually expressing intent.  First-party sourced buyer-level intent is the Holy Grail of sales acceleration,” said Chief Strategy Officer David Fortino. “Marketers are finally able to capture in-market and intent-rich dialogue directly from their prospects on a fully-permissioned basis at scale.  Far too many vendors are delivering account-level insights and guessing at the “who” behind the behavior.  We’re not in the business of guessing; it’s time for marketing and sales to understand the who — the person instead of the persona and that’s what we’re delivering on.”

TechTarget Acquires ESG

TechTarget continues to build out its technology content set with the acquisition of Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), “a leading provider of decision-support content based on user research and market analysis for global enterprise technology companies.”  ESG has twenty-seven researchers and analysts who cover Cloud Services & Orchestration; Converged Infrastructure; Cybersecurity; Data Platforms, Analytics & A.I.; Data Protection; Digital Workspace; Networking; and Storage.

TechTarget called ESG a “natural complement and extension” of its value prop.  It expands TechTarget’s “decision support content” and provides it with “new fact-based, research-driven content” for sales and marketing outreach “identified by purchase intent insights.”  ESG’s segment expertise and analysis support technology purchase decisioning that extends TechTarget’s value beyond its 140+ technology research websites.

ESG works with its customers to develop custom content, including technical validation, economic analyses, and bespoke end-user research that “enables the creation of highly actionable, extremely useful, interactive content deliverables and tools.” Content types include white papers, videos, infographics, dynamic content (HTML 5), online event support, and social media support.

Clients commonly use ESG content to support product launches, competitive positioning, channel enablement, and ABM-focused outreach.  Thus, TechTarget’s websites identify who is currently in-market for specific solution types, and ESG’s custom content delivers mid-funnel tools to assist with messaging across the demand unit.

“ESG delivers highly relevant, purchase cycle-focused content specifically built to support buying and selling. As such it helps fill critical gaps that have long increased costs and cycle times on both sides of the process.  Adding depth to and building on TechTarget’s existing strengths in content, process support, and data creates clear, easily accessed value for both clients and end-users.”

ESG Founder Steve Duplessie

The ESG acquisition is TechTarget’s third over the past year.  In December, TechTarget closed on its $150 million BrightTALK purchase that provided it with event marketing and event-related intent signals.  In March, TechTarget tucked in Data Science Central, a digital publisher that focuses on data science and business analytics.

“We’re super excited about the value ESG provides to our clients and our members,” said Michael Cotoia, Chief Executive Officer, TechTarget. “Together, we can provide enterprise technology buyers much richer information support across their buyer’s journeys.  For our clients, adding ESG to the unmatched intent data and services we’ve long-provided means we can further increase their productivity gains and business yields end-to-end across go-to-markets.”

The acquisition price was not disclosed.  Both firms operate in the Boston suburbs. The BrightTALK acquisition closed on December 23rd.

Revenue Grid Guided Selling

Revenue Grid which describes itself as a Guided Selling vendor, offers a hybrid platform with sales engagement, revenue intelligence, relationship intelligence, meeting management, and conversation intelligence.  Unlike many startups in these spaces, Revenue Grid comes to market with fifteen years of experience building native platform integrations behind the firewall and in the cloud.  It then layers on top reports, analytics, and an Outlook/Gmail/LinkedIn sidebar for identifying opportunities at risk, next steps and missed actions, engagement scores, and pipeline analytics.

“Algorithmic guided selling leverages emerging AI technology and existing sales data to guide sellers through deals, automating manual sales actions while reducing the need for individual seller judgment in the sales process,” wrote Gartner.  Guided Selling is data and process-driven, with Next Best Action recommendations that make CRMs actionable.

Guided Selling intelligence is gathered from CRMs, emails, calendars, phone calls, and videos.  Engagement is measured across these channels and delivered as a set of insights and revenue signals that support Guided Selling.  Signals are Next Best Actions based upon AI recommendations and sales playbooks.  

Revenue Grid describes signals as “contextual, actionable notifications that tell your whole sales org what is going well or poorly throughout your whole sales process.”  Sales reps can act on recommendations by merely clicking on the signal.

These definitions can all get confusing, but the vision becomes clearer when skipping past the inputs and technology and merely considering which sales and management questions Revenue Grid looks to address.  Revenue Grid answers a host of sales rep questions, including

  • Which deals should I focus on today?
  • How likely am I to close the deal this month or quarter?
  • How can I improve my odds of winning this opportunity?
  • Which deals are at risk and why?  
  • Did I complete all of the post-deal activities discussed on the call?
  • Have I updated all my opportunities before tomorrow’s deal review?
  • How can I prepare for a meeting?
  • Does anybody at my firm have a relationship with key decision-makers?
  • How is engagement across the account?  Am I building relationships with the key stakeholders?

Likewise, managers can answer questions such as

  • Are sales reps focused on the right things?
  • Do sales reps know what to do next?
  • How can I guide reps in each deal?
  • Which deals are moving, stalled, or at risk?
  • Do my reps know what to say at meetings? Do our scripts work?
  • How do I know my coaching is effective?
  • Which committed deals are unlikely to close?
  • How do I improve our forecasts?

Part II discusses Revenue Grid’s feature set.